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An agent, contract and Justice, it's all irrelevant

Irrelevant Week

June 21, 2013|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
  • Mr. Irrelevant Justice Cunningham, left, listens as Leigh Steinberg gives him a fake contract during the All-Star Lowsman Banquet Thusday.
Mr. Irrelevant Justice Cunningham, left, listens as… (Steve Virgen, Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Leigh Steinberg showed up to the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa to work on an NFL rookie contract on Thursday. He has negotiated these types of contracts with this NFL team before as a sports agent.

His clients with the Indianapolis Colts have included a couple of top draft choices in the past. There was Jeff George, the No. 1 overall pick in 1990, and Duane Bickett, the fifth overall pick in 1985.

How times have changed for Steinberg. No longer is he landing first-round players.

Now, he only gets to deal with the bottom, as in Mr. Irrelevant, the dead-last player selected in the NFL Draft.

Since the 1980s, Steinberg said he has been the designated agent during Irrelevant Week. These days, it's the only work he can find in this cutthroat business of representing professional athletes.

He met with this year's Mr. Irrelevant, Justice Cunningham, during the Lowsman Banquet. Even on a day his daughter graduated from Corona del Mar High, Steinberg, a Daily Pilot columnist, found time to cook up a lucrative contract for Mr. Irrelevant.

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"I just ignored the salary cap," said Steinberg, adding that Cunningham, a blocking tight end, earned a $20-million signing bonus, along with some clauses. "He doesn't have to practice any days that end in the letter 'y.' He's guaranteed at least five passes thrown his way every game, or he's granted instant free agency.

"He went to South Carolina, he's tough, but not necessarily hardy, and so he doesn't have to play in any non-dome contests where the temperature [at] game time is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. He just gets a pass, because we don't want to do major freezing damage to him. This is not a meat locker. It's a football game. And of course, he gets a single room and concierge service on the road. [All of] this is guaranteed until the plane takes off at the … airport."

Cunningham isn't going to want to leave Newport Beach come Saturday for the NFL Rookie Symposium in Aurora, Ohio.

Thursday marked the first of three straight days organizers of Irrelevant Week planned to treat Cunningham as the No. 1 overall pick.

On Friday, he goofed around at Disneyland and at night dragged the infield during a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game. On Saturday, he's taking surfing lessons at 30th Street from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then attending a welcome to Newport Beach party at the Newport Beach Civic Center from noon to 2 p.m.

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